Thursday, September 24, 2015

Being Emptied

What I do in church!!  I listen-really!

Being Emptied.  What is empty?  Empty.  Webster defines it this way: 

    1. emp·ty
      1. 1
        containing nothing; not filled or occupied.
        "he took his empty coffee cup back to the counter"
      2. 2
        (of words or a gesture) lacking meaning or sincerity.
        "his answer sounded a little empty"
      1. 1
        remove all the contents of (a container).
        "we empty the cash register each night at closing time"
      1. 1
        a container (especially a bottle or glass) left empty of its contents.

        The word doesn't have a positive connotation does it? Why is that? If you look at the synonyms it's a disaster! But the actual definition is pretty generic. If something is empty, it contains nothing. Often something benign becomes offensive when associated with a negative. So why is "empty" a bad thing when all it really means is
        "containing nothing".

        Why do we feel full is better than empty? Is it better to be filled with something, anything, than nothing? Does it matter what we are filled with, or just that we are filled? Do we give much care or thought to what we fill our lives with, or do we just need to "feel full"?

        What I've learned, (and I wish I could learn it with food!!), is that empty is not a bad thing. Being emptied means you have a chance to chose what you let fill you again. It means you can see the vessel again. Your shell. The container that holds everything. The person you are without your activities, relationships, job and so forth. Being emptied brings clarity.

        And even though I didn't empty my life of art because I wanted to, it has given me the chance and the distance to see my artistic life objectively. And I know going forward what I refill myself with will look very different. Being emptied means I have the chance to look over the art I've done, assess it and chose what's important to me going forward. Where I will invest my time. What I enjoy most and what resonates most with my spirit.

        It wasn't just the art that I put aside, but because my creative side is such a part of me I think it felt a little like part of me died. I needed to do this to have more space in my life for more important things. And after the art was almost all gone I had some distance and perspective to see it with new eyes. To see what's really important.

        I spent a lot of time doing art for the wrong reasons. And I'd like to say that doing art for any reason is good. But like anything, to have meaning it must not be watered down. My natural inclinations are to do and be and get as much of life as you can while the getting is good. And I was doing it all. Watercolor, oils, pastels, teaching, showing, selling, competing. I see now that doing so much was a time rich in experience, but lacking focus. With time being at such a premium now, I have to pick and choose carefully what I will spend my time doing. This has helped me understand what I love most and what I am best at and which activities, mediums and subjects fill me with joy. And as I begin to fill myself again in the future, I will hopefully be much more selective about what goes in my life. As well as being mindful that this vessel can only hold so much and, that while strong, has some weak places that when stressed may actually crack!! Life lessons learned. (I hope)

        So while being emptied has negative implications, I think the opposite is true. I think I will "empty" myself purposefully again in the future by taking the time to rid my life of extraneous things and regain perspective. Life can be a run away train, rolling down the tracks gaining momentum but speeding past the beauty that surrounds it. It has only been while putting the breaks on that train that I have once again looked at the scenery and not just the destination. In fact, I've actually derailed the train and been moved to an entirely new tack with a different destination!

        I guess my point would be, and I wish I had learned this a while ago, do it all!! Yes, go ahead, fill yourself to the top with all the good art related things that interest you! Those are rich times of taking it all in and learning about the world and art around you. Never lose that wonder. But stop occasionally to evaluate what it is that is really feeding your spirit and maybe focus a little more of life's energy in that space. (the other thing I learned a while ago is that I love every form of art, but a lack of focus means you won't become proficient at any of them!) Next post I will share more about what I am refilling my time with.

        Only an empty vessel can be filled. So let yourself be emptied. And carefully, thoughtfully, refill yourself with what speaks to your soul. It matters what fills you.


  1. Michelle, I think all of us encounter this fork in the road at various times in our lives. I have gone head strong in one direction, only to be seduced by another "pretty" which makes me go in another direction...never really fulfilling all the possibilities that I could be achieved....if only I hadn't been aware of this in the beginning! My art supplies would be under control, and I would be a bit more accomplished...

    That being said, those forks have also shown me (in a long about way) what I was lacking in my artistic abilities. So, with each day, I learn something new...and sometimes it is that I need to retrace my steps, and go back to where I began!

    Thanks again for sharing with us! I can't wait to see what you are "filling the empty spaces" with.

    1. Its our plight as artists to be drawn to every form of creative expression and unless you try it all, how can you know you haven't missed something!! Thanks for the comment and thank you for reading!

  2. Thanks, Michelle. Your post comes at time in my life when I needed to hear these exact words. It's almost as though you are sitting across from me, telling me that my emptiness will once again be filled with beautiful things...and of my own choosing. I owe you a debt of gratitude for your inspiring post.

    1. Take it slow and fill yourself intentionally. And remember, empty is not bad! Thanks you so much for reading and responding. It makes my day to read my comments! Take care Penny.